Saturday, February 28, 2015

Blog Tour: The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen

Welcome to the next stop on The Secret of Pembrooke Park blog tour! Below I offer my review, and following that you will find details of an amazing giveaway, sponsored by author Julie Klassen.  You may recall my previous review of her work, The Dancing Master, posted last year. Thanks for stopping by for this latest novel!

In the spring of 1818, twenty-four-year-old Abigail Foster fears she is destined to become a spinster. Her family’s finances are in ruins and the one young man she truly esteems has fallen for another woman — her younger, prettier sister Louisa.

Forced to retrench after the bank failure of Austen, Gray & Vincent, the Foster family optimistically pool their resources for another London Season for her sister in hopes of an advantageous alliance. While searching for more affordable lodgings, a surprising offer is presented: the use of a country manor house in Berkshire abandoned for eighteen years. The Fosters journey to the imposing Pembrooke Park and are startled to find it entombed as it was abruptly left, the tight-lipped locals offering only rumors of a secret room, hidden treasure and a murder in its mysterious past.

Eager to restore her family fortune, Abigail, with the help of the handsome local curate William Chapman and his sister Leah, begins her search into the heavily veiled past aided by unsigned journal pages from a previous resident and her own spirited determination. As old friends and new foes come calling at Pembrooke Park, secrets come to light. Will Abigail find the treasure and love she seeks...or very real danger?

Family tragedy...a dark and mysterious house...the longing of young love... Julie Klassen has brought an intriguing premise to her readers in her latest novel, The Secret of Pembrooke Park, and she has done so in excellent fashion.  Lovers of Jane Austen would do well in the reading of this Gothic novel, set in the early 19th century.  I noted similarities to Northanger Abbey in its dark, mysterious nature.  I also saw shades of Sense and Sensibility, given that Abigail’s family has come upon hard times and must relocate to more modest accommodations.

As I found in the past with Klassen’s The Dancing Master, Julie’s writing is of high quality, but is effortless, taking the reader into this world of her creation.  I could not only see these characters easily in my mind, but I actually cared about them.  They were more than names upon the page. While the ages and nationalities are not exactly on target, I found the following public figures settling into my mind as I read the story:

Abigail: Shailene Woodley
Gilbert:  Jonathan Crombie
Charles Foster: Hugo Weaving
Louisa: Chloë Grace Moretz
Mr. Arbeau: Alan Rickman
Mac Chapman: Brendan Gleeson
William Chapman: Simon Woods
Mrs. Walsh: Phyllis Logan
Duncan: Stephen Amell

There are others that come to mind, but I offer those ideas to note how well I was drawn into the story, and Klassen’s ability to compose her characters.  This helped me to keep track of the many concepts that are offered in the plot: mystery, family issues, romance, adventurous treasure hunting… there’s much to offer readers of all types in The Secret of Pembrooke Park. And as I found in Klassen’s earlier work, she keeps the content very family-friendly, so I can recommend this title to anyone.  It’s suspenseful, at times eerie, and inspirational as well.  Those who enjoy Regency fiction would make an excellent audience, but Pembrooke Park is a quality narrative that can transcend genre. In recent years I have read work that might have been “well written”, but the plot, characters and composition didn’t appeal to me.  What matters in the end is STORY. Does it hold my attention? Do I care about the characters? In The Secret of Pembrooke Park, Julie Klassen has succeeded for this reader. I’m pleased that she is prospering as a writer, and I look forward to what may lie ahead for her in 2015.

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Sound intriguing? Check out these related videos for The Secret of Pembrooke Park:


The Real-life Manor Behind Julie Klassen’s
The Secret of Pembrooke Park


“Jane Austen meets Victoria Holt in Christy Award–winning Klassen’s latest deliciously spooky and sweetly romantic historical.” — Booklist

“Regency romance with awesome castles, secrets, hidden rooms and, of course, romance . . . . Julie Klassen has hit this one out of the ballpark.” — Romantic Times Book Reviews Top Pick

“If you are looking for a book which combines the enticing elements of a Gothic with the mannerly charm of a Regency, look no further, because this lovely Inspirational is just your cup of tea.” — Heroes and Heartbreakers

“While there are plenty of Regency authors out there, the lovely Julie Klassen is by far one of the top and a must read for fans of Austen/Brontë style and prose. Klassen’s latest, The Secret of Pembrooke Park has a touch of both – the mystery of Brontë and the fun of Austen.”— Books and Beverages

The Secret of Pembrooke Park is perfectly packaged with several threads of the gothic suspense, Regency romance and inspirational themes while presenting a well plotted story with intriguing characters in an amazing setting.” — Burton Book Review

About the Author

Julie Klassen loves all things Jane—Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. Three of her books have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. She has also been a finalist in the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Awards. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in St. Paul, Minnesota. Learn more about Julie and her books at her website, follow her on Twitter, and visit her on Facebook and Goodreads.

The Secret of Pembrooke Park Blog Tour and Giveaway

Award winning historical romance author Julie Klassen tours the blogosphere February 16 through March 2 to share her latest release, The Secret of Pembrooke Park. Twenty five popular book bloggers specializing in historical and Austenesque fiction are featuring guest blogs, interviews, book reviews and excerpts of this acclaimed gothic Regency romance novel. A fabulous giveaway contest, including copies of all of Ms. Klassen’s eight books and other Jane Austen-themed items, is open to those who join the festivities. See below for further details!


February 16 My Jane Austen Book Club (Guest Blog)
February 16 vvb32 Reads (Excerpt)
February 17 Psychotic State Book Reviews (Review)
February 17 My Kids Led Me Back to Pride and Prejudice (Spotlight)
February 18 Addicted to Jane Austen (Review)
February 18 Peeking Between the Pages (Review)
February 19 Jane Austen in Vermont (Interview)
February 19 Living Read Girl (Review)
February 20 My Love for Jane Austen (Excerpt)
February 20 Truth, Beauty, Freedom & Books (Review)
February 20 Laura's Reviews (Guest Blog)
February 21 A Bookish Way of Life (Review)
February 21 Romantic Historical Reviews (Excerpt)
February 21 Confessions of a Book Addict (Review)
February 22 Reflections of a Book Addict (Review)
February 23 Austenesque Reviews (Guest Blog)
February 23 Peace, Love, Books (Review)
February 24 vvb32 Reads (Review)
February 24 Poof Books (Excerpt)
February 25 Babblings of a Bookworm (Review)
February 25 Austenesque Reviews (Review)
February 25 Luxury Reading (Review)
February 26 So Little Time…So Much to Read (Review)
February 26 More Agreeably Engaged (Excerpt)
February 27 Psychotic State Book Reviews (Interview)
February 27 Booktalk & More (Review)
February 28 Laughing with Lizzie (Spotlight)
February 28 The Calico Critic (Review)
March 01 Leatherbound Reviews (Excerpt)
March 01 Delighted Reader (Review)
March 02 CozyNookBks (Review)
March 02 Laura's Reviews (Review)

Grand Giveaway Contest 

Win One of Four Fabulous Prizes

In celebration of the release of The Secret of Pembrooke Park, four chances to win copies of Julie’s books and other Jane Austen-inspired items are being offered.

Three lucky winners will receive one trade paperback or eBook copy of The Secret of Pembrooke Park, and one grand prize winner will receive one copy of all eight of Julie’s novels: Lady of Milkweed Manor, The Apothecary's Daughter, The Silent Governess, The Girl in the Gatehouse, The Maid of Fairbourne Hall, The Tutor’s Daughter, The Dancing Master, and The Secret of Pembrooke Park, one DVD of Northanger Abbey (2007) and a Jane Austen Action Figure.

To enter the giveaway contest, simply leave a comment on any or all of the blog stops on The Secret of Pembrooke Park Blog Tour starting February 16, 2015 through 11:59 pm PT, March 9, 2015. Winners will be drawn at random from all of the comments and announced on Julie Klassen’s website on March 16, 2015. Winners have until March 22, 2015 to claim their prize. The giveaway contest is open to residents of the US, UK, and Canada. Digital books will be sent through Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Good luck to all!




Audio Edition


  1. TY 4 the fantastic review! I can't wait to read The Secret of Pembrooke Park.

  2. Thanks for the wonderful review. LOVE that you have "casted" actors in the various roles. (I do that when I write as well, and you matched one of my picks on the nose--Gilbert! :) I'm not familiar with every actor you mention, but I'll take a look. Thanks againi!

  3. lol - I love your Gilbert! ;) I'm looking forward to reading this book!

  4. I love your choices for the characters! I loved the book and am looking forward to reading more by her!

  5. Love that you casted everyone! I'm never good at that! I really like who you chose for Mac! :)

    Hugs, Amada (pronounced:

  6. I love your public fiures - especially Gilbert! He's perfect!
    Hoping for a win. I love Julie's work.

  7. This is one blog tour I've been stalking for the giveaway! I'll probably end up getting from the library.

  8. I love your post! I want to read this book so much!

  9. It is interesting to see the photos showing your idea of the characters. I'm really looking forward to reading The Secret of Pembrooke Park.

  10. interesting casting choices

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  11. I absolutely love Julie Klassen! I cannot wait to read more from her! This blog tour is so exciting!

  12. Nice casting! I especially like your Gilbert and Mrs. Walsh, being a fan of "Anne of Green Gables" and "Downton Abbey"!

  13. I like Julie's writing. I hope to win one of this book.

  14. Excellent review! Though I don't know any of these actors or actresses, I can easily picture them in any of Julie Klassen's books! She's my most favorite author & I've read 5 of her books. I've quite enjoyed the blog tour and the chance to win a great prize package. I haven't read "The Secret of Pembrooke Park" but from all the different excerpts and reviews, it's another terrific book! Thank you for hosting her on your blog today!

  15. Thank you for the videos. I especially liked the one of the manor and church as now I have a visual. Thank you for the giveaway!

  16. What a great contest. Julie is a great writer. Thank you for the chance to win and for sharing your review. griperang at embarqmail dot com

  17. I love books by Julie Klassen!

  18. I love that you put pics up! Fun (: Let's get this tour overwith and sent me that awesome PRIZE PACK ALREADY!!! (;

  19. Enjoyed your review as well as the character casting. Sounds like a great book!

  20. It looks amazing! I have to admit that I did not know this author but Pembrooke looks great!! It will be great to have the opportunity to win this book or any other by Julie Klassen :D

  21. I love how you found modern characters/actors to fit the roles in the book. I can't wait to read it to see if I agree with your choices!

  22. Fun picks for the cast selection! Nice review! I thought it was an all around good story too.

  23. It's great to see how you pictured each character. I pictured Gilbert very similarly!

    Can't wait for Lady Maybe!


  24. Always a fan of Julie's books - can't wait to read it! truckredford(at)gmail(dot)com

  25. i love the pictures! excited to read this book and i hope i win :)

  26. I LOVE Julie's book! :D Finger's crossed!

  27. Great review. I have enjoyed the other books I've read by Julie and I can't wait to read this book.

  28. I love your casting(especially Gilbert)!! Thank you for sharing your review with us, Laura. This is one book that I cannot wait to read! ~ Blessings, Juli

  29. Looove how you cast people for the characters in the story. Thanks for participating in the blog tour and sharing about The Secret of Pembrooke Park.

  30. Love all her books! Thanks for the chance!
    Dezi A

  31. It is always interesting to see what people visualize the characters looking like when they read a book. Once again Julie's book is wonderfully written and thoroughly enjoyable.

  32. My favorite part of participating in reviewing and blog tour for this book has been adding my "cast" photos to pinterest! Jude Law as Miles was my favorite casting. I also can picture Rachel Weisz as Abigail.

  33. I loved the little Video introduction of this book. I want to read it even more and that's saying something after all the lovely bits and revews so far.

  34. Love Julie Klassen! Fun to see your imagined actors for the characters :)



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